‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: Chris O’Donnell Was Almost in This Will Smith Movie

Chris O’Donnell has enjoyed a successful acting career. He has appeared in many hit movies and TV shows. However, there are some roles the NCIS: Los Angeles star decided to pass up. He once reportedly turned down the lead role in a Will Smith movie.

Chris O’Donnell says he turned down roles early in his career

Chris O'Donnell | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
Chris O’Donnell | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

O’Donnell has been in a lot of movies, but he could have been in more if he didn’t turn down a few opportunities. During an interview with Watch! magazine, O’Donnell responds to a reporter’s comment about his effortless performances early in his career.

He explains this was partly because he wasn’t a trained actor, so he chose roles he felt would be a natural fit. O’Donnell also admits he turned down a lot of roles because he was unsure of himself. He says he didn’t know if he had the talent to perform some of the roles he was offered:

I wasn’t a trained actor. To me, it had to feel natural and real for it to work. Which is good and bad. It helped me to give very natural performances, but at the same time, because I hadn’t been trained, I was afraid of what my limits were. There were times when films would come by that I didn’t pursue, even though I knew they were very interested in me, because in the back of my head I thought, ‘I’m not sure if I can do that.’ I was thinking, ‘I’ve worked with some of the best actors and directors in the world, but I’m a fraud.’

Chris O’Donnell, Watch magazine

Chris O’Donnell could have been the lead in this Will Smith movie

One of Will Smith’s most popular movies almost starred Chris O’Donnell. The NCIS: Los Angeles star was offered the lead role in Men in Black. According to Redbook, he turned the role down because he wanted to make more time for his family. Acting is important to O’Donnell, but family makes the top of his list. He says he takes his role as a husband and father seriously.

During an interview with HuffPost, Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld says he really wanted Will Smith for the movie, so he tried to discourage O’Donnell from signing up for the film. Steven Spielberg, executive producer Men in Black, however, wanted O’Donnell for the lead role.

″[Spielberg] told me I had to go to dinner with Chris and convince Chris to be in the movie,” Sonnenfeld told HuffPost. “But I knew I wanted Will Smith, so I told Chris that I wasn’t a very good director, and I didn’t think the script was very good and if he had any other options, he shouldn’t do Men in Black. He let it be known the next day that he was not interested.”

Chris O’Donnell’s highest-grossing films

As of this writing, O’Donnell’s highest-grossing film is Batman Forever, with worldwide box office earnings of more than $336 million. Some of his other high-grossing films include Batman and Robin, with worldwide box office earnings of more than $238 million; Vertical Limit, with worldwide box office earnings of more than $213 million; and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, with more than $113 million in worldwide box office earnings.

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